FORT MYERS, Fla. - The four Baltimore-based reporters who made the trip to JetBlue Park today also made the rounds inside the cramped visitors clubhouse in the middle of the game.
(Hard to believe this place is new. It’s got some nice features and it holds almost 10,000 fans, but Ed Smith Stadium kicks its butt.)
“He just told me pretty much to calm down, throw strikes like I always do, usually with fastball command. Had some giddy-up. He said don’t worry about that. That’s about all he said. Calmed me down.”
Bundy was amped up, and who could blame him?
“I’d say that’s the word. I wasn’t nervous. I was antsy, amped up,” he said. “Facing those three guys first game, right off the bat, that was pretty intense.
“Obviously, every pitcher wants to face the best. That’s how any pitcher gets better, facing the best. I felt that those three hitters in that lineup were pretty dang good. I came in the game, thought I was going to throw in the eighth or ninth. To pitch in the fifth was pretty special.”
Bundy found out he’d pitch the bottom of the fifth when Boston’s reliever entered in the top half of the inning.
“I had three outs to get ready,” he said. “As a starter, I’m not really used to it, but we made it work.”
Bundy fed the Red Sox a steady diet of fastballs, topping out at 97 mph twice against Adrian Gonzalez.
“That’s what happens when you get behind the count. You’ve just got to throw fastballs. I was just kind of leaving my fastball up,” he said.
“Four-pitch walk gets to every pitcher’s head. You don’t always know what’s going on. Gonzalez, he’s a great hitter. You definitely want to throw your best pitches to that guy in that at-bat, but I got the out, so that’s good.”
Bundy should be somewhat flattered that he got the ball so early in the game. He has no shot at making the team, but he’s not here for mop-up duty.
“You could say that,” he said. “It’s not really my place to say that stuff. To pitch early in the game to those good hitters is pretty neat. First big league game, first outing, that’s pretty fun.’
Teagarden figured that Bundy would be amped up in his first exhibition game, and facing the Red Sox on the road in front of a sell-out crowd.
“I thought he did pretty good,” Teagarden said. “I expected him to be a little bit jittery and maybe let his adrenaline kind of carry over, which happens a lot. But I was really pleased with how he bounced back after walking the guy on four straight pitches. I just told him, ‘Hey man, just do it like we did in live BP. Throw away to guys, throw your fastball. If you get into a situation where you can spin a few, do that.’ It was nice how he responded.
“I just told him, ‘You’ve got plenty on your fastball, just get you in the zone, get these guys swinging the bats.’ And he got a couple quick outs after that.
“I think it helps having his brother (Bobby) with him to show him the ropes a little bit with pro ball, show him what to expect. For 19 years old, he carries himself very well. I’ve seen a lot of young guys come out in games like that and just walk the house pretty much. But coming out playing against the Red Sox, with a big crowd, he got back in the zone and he seems composed for the most part.”
Here’s Dana Eveland, who allowed one run and two hits, and retired the last six batters he faced:
“A little rusty at first, a little almost overly amped. That was the first time getting that adrenaline pumped since September. It was a good feeling, but at the same time you’ve still got to hone it in, and I felt like I did a better job in the second inning. Fell behind three hitters in the first inning. Huge disadvantage for me because I’m not going to overpower guys. I’ve got to pitch ahead and that was the biggest issue, I think.
“I made some bad pitches but I made some good pitches, too. Still got room to get better, obviously, but I’m OK with the outing. The first one’s always the one you get a little antsy over. It was nice for it to be over and we’ll move forward, and I’m sure next time I’ll be a little more comfortable and just keep getting better throughout the spring.
“I got to see the boppers out of the chute, which is a good thing. I don’t want to go out there and face a bunch of guys I’m not going to see all year. If I get an opportunity to face some guys and kind of get a clue what they’re swinging at, that was a good thing.”
Here’s Chris Tillman, who allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits in two innings:
“Physically, I felt really good. Obviously, the pitches weren’t there. It’s just a matter of pulling back on the fastball a little bit. I was good in and out, but I was a little bit up in the zone.
“It’s always good to face the better lineups to see where you’re at. I felt good. They let me know that my fastball was up in the zone. I felt strong. Just need to make the adjustment to get it down a little bit. I think it needs to be a quick adjustment. I was working pretty good in and out, just not down.
“I felt good the whole time. Errors happen, it’s my job to do damage control. It’s on me there. You’ve got to make better pitches down in the zone.”
Oliver Drake gave up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. The Orioles trail, 5-4, in the top of the ninth. I’m heading to the field for the post-game interview with manager Buck Showalter.